Sunday, March 6, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Math Doesn't Suck

Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday again, my fifth week of this great idea started by Shannon Whitney Messenger. This week, I'm doing something a little different. While there are many, many wonderful fiction books for middle graders, there are also some very important and worthwhile, even marvelous, non-fiction books.

Danica McKellar is an actress (I will forever think of her as Winnie on The Wonder Years), but she is also a very smart lady. She has written a series of fabulous books about math. Now, I can hear a few of you cringing out there.

What's marvelous about math?

The answer is, there's a lot that is marvelous about math, but a lot of girls don't think so. (Some boys, too, but this post is for the girls.) In fact, a lot of girls are not only scared of math, they think that liking math is bad. Not cool. Not attractive to boys.

In Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail, Danica McKellar shows that you can be smart AND attractive. She doesn't just preach it, though. She actually makes math fun and appealing, and does it in a way that will speak to middle grade girls. She carefully and cleverly goes through each topic that middle grade girls need to learn, using examples and techniques spiced with girl concepts like pizza and shopping and crushes. Interspersed throughout are quotes and encouragement from real middle grade and older girls, and a few boys, about being smart and fabulous.

You see, there was a time when Danica McKellar was a young girl frightened of math. She once sat so paralyzed by a test that she wrote nothing down for the whole period. But somehow (and she explains how), she found her way to becoming a math major in college. And pretty and fabulous too.

Trust me on this. This book could make a huge difference in a young girl's life. Don't hesitate or think about or cringe at the idea of math. Math can be marvelous, but it's a lot more likely to feel that way to a special girl in your life if you buy her the book.

Buy 'Math Doesn't Suck' or the books for older girls on
Or on
Or on

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Whitney Messenger, but others have taken up the task in recent weeks, including:
If you watch those blogs today, you are likely to find other great middle grade book recommendations.


  1. My son seems to be acing math in 6th grade, but my daughter doesn't have as easy a time. I might be needing this when she hits middle school in a couple years because it was never my strong subject either!

  2. I student-taught 5th and 6th graders in math many years ago, and have since had a daughter go through it all. Girls tend to do well until some point where the combination of boy-oriented teaching (whether the teacher is male or female, the style is oriented toward the way boys learn) and peer pressure mean that girls very quickly start "hating" math, or fearing it. My daughter felt the pressure, and we had to work like crazy to boost her confidence and help her past the obstacles. Eventually, she fell in love with math again and eventually majored in economics in college, but I wish we had had this book at the time.

  3. Wish this book had been around when I was in school! Math was never my strongest subject. Nice review, Ben, and thanks so much for the link. I've just linked to your post.

  4. My daughter had a teacher last year that convinced her she wasn't good at math. She (the teacher) tried to convince me too, but her state test scores tell a different story. I appreciate this one, Ben. I'll have to check it out.

  5. @Joanne - For what it is worth, it is never too late. My wife and I are both very good mathematically, and each of us managed to learn things from this book although we have done lots of advanced math.

    @Myrna - She is lucky to have you as a mom. Many parents believe it when a teacher says this, while much of the issue is with learning style, confidence and peer pressure. Keep advocating for her, and believing in her, and she will do well.